Drivers at Winchester have now completed their first week’s use of the new ticket machines. The machines were introduced on Sunday but since many services don’t run on a Sunday and those that do are at reduced frequency only a relatively few drivers were working that day. Monday morning was the real start and thankfully I didn’t work either Monday or Tuesday – there were stories of drivers leaving the bus station 20 minutes late as they struggled to get to grips with the new machines. Until I take a photo of one of our machines here is a picture I managed to find on the Internet.
Also you can read all about the ERG Ticket Systems TP5000 here .
I’ve now used the new machine for only 4 days so it’s a little early to make a final judgement. So far it’s good in parts and terrible in others! I’m sure some faults are down to Stagecoach because the machine is very customisable and it’s these bits that either Stagecoach haven’t taken much care over, or if ERG did it for them Stagecoach haven’t picked up on the errors. For example there are two LCD’s on the machine, one for the driver and another directed toward the passenger which displays “TO: ………..” and displays the fare (incidentally, it doesn’t indicate whether the fare being charged is a single or return ticket which to my mind is a bad omission). However, it’s the TO: destination as displayed on the customer LCD which is worst of all, there is limited space in which to display the destination so in some cases it needs to be truncated. I would naturally expect letters at the end of the destination to be those that are cut off but no, the first letter or two is cut off! Passengers going to, for example Colden Common” have a display which reads “TO: olden Common”. If you think you’re going to Sparsholt the display reads “TO: arsholt” which may come dangerously close to offending some passengers whilst amusing others. This is just sloppiness which should have been picked up well before the machines entered service. I wonder if it will ever be corrected? If you’re using the TP5000 outside the Stagecoach Winchester area please post a comment on how your machines handle destination truncation in the customer LCD.
Finding adult day tickets of the numerous types, child tickets, family tickets, week tickets etc. is now much easier. Hooray!
High on the priority list for all drivers is to ensure that the bus runs as near on-time as possible (late you can’t control, early you should be able to). The display on the old ticket machines, when not issuing tickets, reverted to a nice big time and date being displayed. I never realised how many times I checked the time against my running until Wednesday when I used the new machine for the first time. The time is displayed in the smallest font possible almost as if it were an after thought. It can be read by peering intently at the screen when stationary but becomes a blur once the bus is moving and the ticket machine vibrating. Again I can’t understand why no one has picked this up before.
There is one other other thing I really dislike but I’m not sure if it’s Stagecoach specific or TP5000 specific. Anyway it’ll take a long explanation so I’ll save that for another posting when I update my opinions having used the machine for longer.
22 August 2010. There’s an update here.